TODAY MARKS A DECADE SINCE MY FATHER, A COMPOSER AND PIANIST, DIED
I carry a room with a piano inside me, a playable space. The keyboard, with its sense of teeth, its sense of smile, keeps misplacing itself, detaching, re-attaching, sometimes floating, corpse-and-jester, and my father’s hands follow the keyboard. Yes, his hands are not always with him, and sometimes his heart is in his hands before they start to improvise…. There he is, with Chopin and Liszt, rue and a hug, inside me.
There is ever the scent of garlic in the air, and dad sometimes devotes space to entertaining family and friends. Shiny ebony space. See. Hear. Do we spend our lives closing the lid on oblivion only to report, in the end, we have been recycling it? Notes played on the way to the grave, then grave notes played?
It may be that something of my father is entering noiselessly into each of his other sons’ houses, why doubt that, brothers? I don’t doubt that bits of him within each of my brothers’ heads bursts forward sometimes, as dad does in mine, blurting his joys as well as sorrows, acting peevishly, music and pasta never far off, lots of laughter, provolone, and sudden panic when anything’s wrong. In reaction to his way of calling attentions to himself, we all still can muster annoyance at this man we love–we just can’t take the steady riot of his zest without our protesting and snapping back a mad quip so that he might leave us alone a minute!
In Ancient Rome, Forculus was the god of doors, Cardea goddess of hinges and handles. Dad was always a Roman door, hinges and handles a little ‘off’, while the lid of his piano, another sort of door, was always in the ‘up’ position, in readiness for him when he walked to it and sat down. One door sitting at the smile of another. Moonlight sonata. Ciao, dad!